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Paul Schratz - Life In The Schratz Lane

Justin Trudeau, meet George Orwell

Voices Jan. 19, 2018

Orwellian terms like "goodthink" and the Ministry of Truth come to mind in light of the Liberal Summer Jobs controversy, writes Paul Schratz. 

As a former drama teacher, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be familiar with George Orwell’s 1984.

Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to recognize that Orwell’s nightmarish depiction of a totalitarian society where the government enforces party-approved thoughts is becoming more real every day in Canada.

Witness the prime minister’s defence of the new federal Summer Jobs grant policy, which requires applicants to state their “core mandate” supports the “right to access to safe and legal abortions” as well as government policies on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The policy is a brazen response by the government after being forced to settle with three pro-life groups denied funding because of their abortion views. Effective immediately, any employer applying for summer jobs funding will be required to toe the party-line on abortion.

The Orwellian term “goodthink” (government-approved thought) comes quickly to mind, as do Ministry of Truth and a few other 1984 concepts pertaining to the rewriting of history.

Take for example Trudeau’s defence of the new policy. At a town hall meeting in Hamilton, he called the controversy “a kerfuffle” involving organizations aimed at “restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion and the right for women to control their own bodies …”

Such attitudes, he said, are “not in line with where we are as a government, and quite frankly where we are as a society.”

We could spend hours analyzing the amount of mistruth in Trudeau’s remarks, which, like the new policy, exudes goodthink. His assertion, repeated three times in one sentence, that there is a right to abortion amounts to “alternative facts,” which the news media unquestioningly regurgitate.

This lie that the Supreme Court of Canada has enshrined a constitutional right to abortion, like the supposed right to assisted suicide, gets repeated all the time. Yet it has done no such thing.

In the Morgentaler decision, which marks its 30th grim anniversary at the end of January, the court struck down one particular abortion law, while urging Parliament to replace it with a law that balanced the rights of the unborn with women’s rights.

We’ve never been able to get such a law past the Senate, and so Canada finds itself the only country in the world without any type of abortion law.

Abortion proponents have gotten away for too long with the deception that there is a constitutional right to abortion in Canada. Unfortunately, when you repeat something often enough it starts to become true in many people’s minds, including journalists.

Ironically, Trudeau is partly correct. There is an important constitutional issue at stake. It involves the first right in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which established the “right of freedom of conscience and religion.”

The iron fist around this freedom gets tighter every day, from efforts to quash a Christian law school, to attempts to force religious medical facilities to allow euthanasia, to this latest exercise in political coercion by withholding a government program from anyone who doesn’t buckle under to the government’s whims.

Growing totalitarianism prompted George Orwell to write 1984. Who would have thought it would be as relevant in 2018 Canada as when it was first published in 1949.

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The B.C. Catholic and journalism in Vancouver have lost a good friend. Retired Vancouver Sun editor Bruce Smillie, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Delta, is being lauded in print, online, and in social media for what he brought to the newsroom: talent, dedication, and a unique decency and generosity that influenced numerous journalists in an environment that could be “intense,” as one story about Bruce put it.

He was at the Sun when I worked at The Province, so I never knew him during his newspaper career. But after retirement he joined the B.C. Catholic Advisory Board, sharing the same generosity and talent he’s being remembered for today.

Thanks for your contributions, Bruce. Your solid faith and journalistic expertise inspired us. Rest in peace.

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